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A FAMILY LIFESTYLE BLOG

Preparing Your Dog for a Baby

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For so many couples who are expecting the idea of introducing a baby to their dog can make them feel apprehensive, but it's understandable as there is so much to consider and no one really knows what to expect. Fortunately the introduction doesn't have to be as problematic and stressful as you may be thinking, our dogs are very in tune with us and probably can sense that something is up. We have an eleven year old Beagle who we adore and you could say to some extent that he was our first 'baby'. But being our first 'baby' he became a spoiled one who loves to getting up on the sofa, climbing on our bed and the cheeky bugger loves sitting in the window sill when we leave the house. But I knew that as soon as I found out I was pregnant we couldn't let him behave like this- we had our work cut of for us!

I really didn't have a clue where to start so I did some research and I couldn't actually believe some of the awful and misguided information that was out there. I even read one article that said that it would be a good idea to teach our dog to expect to miss a meal every so often. I wasn't too sure if that was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek piece of advice. My dog is and will always be a part of my family and I want him to feel loved and valued as much as everyone else in the family even when we found out that we were expecting. So if you're in the same boat as use and want a happy and healthy environment for your new baby here are some tips that worked really well for us.

The first thing that all pet owners need to remember is never under any circumstances leave your pet and baby unattended! No matter how well you think you may know your pet, you will always have to keep a watchful eye. But we had further concerns about our dog as he was eleven years old, and it's something that is a priority for us and will continue to be for the rest of his life, it's important to recognise his feelings as well as everyone else.

BEFORE THE BABY COMES (There is lots to do)

It is so important to prepare yourselves and your dog before the baby arrives.

Our first task was to define the NO GO zones in our home so that once the baby arrived he would already be used to them. So there was no more getting up on the sofa, or the window sill and having limited time in the front room. Think about what it will be like when you have your dog and baby in the same room? Try and define a clear route out of the room, even if this is keeping the doors open so if your dog was to ever become uncomfortable or just wants some down time they are able to do so. We created a space that was just for him in our utility room where he had a bed, a crate, food and water so he could relax. We had to remember he was an old man and likes to sleep.


Now that you are expecting a little one there really is no better time to strengthen your dogs obedience training and their understanding of basic house rules. This was something that we worked with our dog for a few months because we had become quite relaxed with his training. But it didn't take him long to get familiar with the training along with a daily walk which is really the best thing anyone can do for their dog as it calms them, keeps them happy and is great for their health. It would be a good idea to vary the times of their daily walks and who ventures out with them as they need to be comfortable with everyone.


Soon enough your dog will have lots of new sights, sounds and smells around them and by gradually leaving baby items around the home will help the get use to them. It is best to let them investigate and if they do happen to pick anything up immediately redirect their attention to their own toys - you don't want your dog to think that it is acceptable to pick up the babys belongings.

FIRST MEETING

Your bundle of joy has finally arrived and that first meeting is not too far a way. While you are in hospital its a good idea to send home a hospital blanket that has been wrapped around your baby. Once someone takes the blanket home get them to calm your dog down and sit so he can sniff the new smell - he will then associate that smell with being calm and hopefully you are ready for the next step. After what seems like forever you are finally on your way home with your new baby and its time to introduce the new member of the family to your beloved dog. Its always best to make sure that your dog is well exercise beforehand, then enter your home without your baby so you can give your pooch some attention as you would have been missed. After a while bring in the baby and as your dog is calm enough you can encourage him to come closer to sniff the baby.

It is crucial that you stay calm and relaxed because if you seem nervous or jumpy your dog will soon pick up on your feelings and they may become nervous too, perhaps thinking that bundle in your arms is something to worry about. Always praise and reward your dog for their good positive behaviour around your baby.


DAILY LIFE WITH THE BABY

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post never under any circumstance leave your dog and your baby alone. No one can ever know what can happened and you may think you know your dog, but it's just a too bigger risk to take. But as you settle into daily life with your dog and baby still continue to focus on being positive and encouraging - include your dog when you are around your baby and in turn the dog will soon realise that this is normal behaviour.


Even though our time with our 'first baby' was limited, we always made sure that we made time for him everyday. I think that it is so important to make time for your dog so that they will realise that even though the pack has a new member, he is still loved. Introducing a new member of family to a dog is not as easy transition for most and it can take a lot of time and preparation. But there are some cases where a dog may avoid the baby all together and unfortunately you have to see this as a red flag and you need think about re-homing your beloved pet. It will be heart breaking for your family but some pets can not adjust to their new lives.


*DISCLAIMER* 
I do have to make a disclaimer now and say that I am in no way a professional and any information that I have included is all based on what worked with us when preparing our dog for a baby. If you are in anyway having trouble with your dog it is always best to seek professional advice or enrol in classes

Would You Wear Pyjamas on the School Run?

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Would you wear pyjamas on the school run?
I read an article today that was circulating about a primary school head teacher asking parents to stop coming to school in their pyjamas and slippers in a bid to raise standards among pupils. You can read the full article here...but is this teacher actually kidding?

Even though my daughter is not of a school age yet and I know I would be all for setting standards but does it really matter if a parent does the school run in their pyjamas? How I see it is being a parent is hard as it is and can become more stressful the older they get and the more you have. I think that the head teacher should be bloody cheering from the rooftops that a parents have actually got their little ones to school on time and in their uniform. Hell I would cheer if I could get out the door without my little lady having a tantrum!

I know whenever  we are trying to be organised in getting ready to be out the door by a certain time of the morning doesn't always go to plan, normally the little lady decides to poop or dribble down herself. Bloody typical and it happens every time, she must know that I don't actually want to arrive early for that appointment. Being late is our 'thing' now and despite a parents best intentions it can go tits up! I am so sure that this will continue throughout her childhood, I have to face up to the fact that our mornings will be a rush and stressful without remembering to dress appropriately for the school run!

I am sure that by dressing 'appropriately' would be setting a good example but they also need to learn that being an parent is hard work and sometimes you think oh bugger it, I will be quick! I don't think parents dressing appropriately and making sure they don't look like a lazy sod will effect a child and their education...some children probably wouldn't even notice and those teachers are probably envious because they want to be in their pyjamas!!! More importantly there is nothing wrong with not being perfect all the time. Life is hard. What does matter is that at least your child is in school, in uniform even if you are in mismatched pyjamas with frizzy hair. Have a great day and rock those pyjamas tomorrow morning!!!

WICKED WEDNESDAY | #2 Just an average day

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My little lady hasn't been having too many meltdowns or getting herself into mischief so there's not been any material for our Wicked Wednesday. Well until she decides to sit and squish her Daddy's head that is...

Breakfast Banana Smoothie

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As I have said it's January and everyone is trying to be healthy including me so what better way to start your day than with a seriously delicious smoothie! This filling smoothie is perfect for a breakfast on the go and it will keep you going all morning as well as giving you a healthy start to the day. 

For this tasty and energising smoothie you will need:

1 medium banana, chopped
125 ml of skimmed milk
Handful of ice cubes
1 tbsp. honey
1/8 of a tsp of ground nutmeg
3 tbsp. of Greek yogurt or low fat yogurt
2 tsp of rolled oats or granola (optional)

Combine the first five ingredients in a blender, process for 2 minutes until smooth. Add the yoghurt and extras if you are having any until completely blended. Serve immediately. Its as simple as that! You can also try this recipe with a variety of fruit - strawberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, or blueberries. You could also use low fat fruit yogurt instead of milk for a creamier and thicker consistency.

RECIPE | Chicken and Bell Pepper Sauté

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It's January and what happens in January? People are joining gyms, joining fitness classes and trying to eat healthier. I am one of those people. I made quite a few New Years resolutions this year and I am determined to stick to them. Positive thinking and all that. I am trying add more fruit and vegetables into my diet and so far this week it's been great. The Combes household have been having lots of nutritious meals and even ran out of vegetables half way in the week - so we need to stock up!!! This Chicken and Bell Pepper Sauté was quick and easy to prepare and very delicious. But what I like most about this recipe that it can be amended to your tastes! It can be served with rice, quinoa, a salad or even potatoes.


To make this Sauté you'll need:

1 chicken breast, diced 
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 tsp oregano (Fresh or dried) 
2 tomatoes, chopped 
120 ml chicken stock (reduced salt) 


METHOD

1. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the chicken, salt and pepper to season and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Add the bell peppers and oregano to the pan; sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken, tomatoes, chicken stock and cook for 1 minute.

That's it! All ready to serve!

6 Ways To Drink More Water

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How much water do you drink a day? Do you ever struggle to drink the recommended amount? Well you have stopped by the right post...


I know that I never drink enough, we are supposed to drink between eight and ten glasses a day to keep us hydrated. But drinking this many glasses a day is easier said than done especially for someone who loves a cup of tea. This New Years I made drinking more water one of my resolutions and I am determined to stick to it! Who's with me? Drinking water has so many great health benefits, but let's be honest water can be boring. I know that after about the third glass of water I am ready to reach for the kettle for a nice cup of tea. But there are so many great ways that can make drinking eight glasses of water more interesting, my favourite has to be having a hot lemon drink first thing in the morning. It wakes you up, it's refreshing and it's a great way to kick start your metabolism. If you'd like to find out ways to drink more water then keep reading! 

1. Infusing your water with fruit, vegetables or herbs can make all the difference. It's so refreshing and I think it's far more appealing than just water. It always a great idea to prepare your infused water in advance, keeping a jug in your fridge will make it easier to refill your water bottle or glass. 

2. Another way to help increase your water in take is to drink unsweetened herbal or fruit teas. I love Heath and Heather Apple and Cinnamon Tea from Holland and Barrett - these are so refreshing and great for your well being. You could even try carbonated water but if you prefer flavoured just make sure that there is no added sugar or sweeteners. 

3. I have found it so much easier to monitor my water intake with a phone app because it enables me to set reminders to drink, I would be lost without this app telling me to drink. You could also set triggers into your lifestyle for sipping water, whether it be receiving a phone call, when your little one drinks or even watching television ads.

4. You'll be surprised at how much and how fast you drink when you use a straw. Its a great way for the little ones to drink more water too, Amelia loves a drink with a straw. 

5. Always carry water with you and by having your own water supply on hand will make drinking water easier. It always great to have some readily available in your handbag, gym bag, in your car or even on your desk at work. It will soon become a habit. 

6. I have found that drinking before, during and after meals helps increase my water intake and it even makes me feel fuller for longer. 

So there you have it ladies and gents 6 ways to help you drink more water, I hope that this helps you get to those eight to ten glasses a day. If you have other ideas please let me know.

WICKED WEDNESDAY | #1 I am done with you taking photos...

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We have not been taking part in Wicked Wednesday as much because the little lady isn't giving me enough funny content, but don't worry we have had words. So without further ado...


It was Christmas Eve and I wanted to take some professional looking photos of my little tinkerbell in a very Christmassy outfit. But after a couple of snaps she began to get the grumps and I had to bribe her with a candy cane!!! 

BAKES | Shortbread

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I can't believe the festive season is well and truly over. It's my favourite time of year, the cosy nights in, cinnamon candles and over indulging in sweet treats. However now that it's January I want to be good and not over indulging in those sweet treats. But before I get stuck into this health kick I want to share my go to shortbread recipe. These shortbread stars are so easy to make as they only have four ingredients and go well with a cup of tea. But they don't have to be stars you can use any cutter you have in your kitchen cupboards. I do love to make these when we have special guests coming to visit, nothing beats a home smelling of sweet shortbread.


To make these you will need...

300g plain flour

200g softened butter

100g caster sugar

a few drops of vanilla extract

Start by rubbing the flour and butter together in a bowl until you have a crumbly consistency, then stir in the caster sugar and vanilla extract and work together until a dough forms. 

Wrap the dough up in cling film and refrigerate for an hour. When you’re ready, preheat the oven to 130c and lightly flour a surface, then roll the dough out to 1cm thickness. Use a cutter to cut star shapes in the dough and arrange on a lined baking tray. 

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until they are a pale golden colour. 

Hello 2016

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Hello and Happy New Year. Every year must come to an end and a new one must begin. 2015 was such a good year for us, our highlights were becoming home owners and having our first family Christmas in our new home so I am really excited what the next year will bring. Like so many, New Years Eve is a time to reflect and even make some resolutions and even though I know not everyone likes to make resolutions, I do think that they are a great way to stat focused and keep motivated throughout the year.

1. Start an exercise schedule...

Yep, this one is going to be one that's one everyone's resolution list without a doubt. Being someone who, let's say, really over indulged this year I need to make this year, the year that I actually become healthy and get up and move. 

2. Eat more fruit and vegetables...

We all could eat more food that's good for us, so eating more fruit and vegetables is definitely on the new year new me list. I also think that this is a good resolution for us to have as a family, my daughter loves her vegetables but I think this year we should venture into more exotic fruit. In terms of our family diet I think trying to add at least three vegetables is more than achievable so I guess we have to watch this space. 

3. Get more sleep...

Yep, I know, we have a toddler. But towards the end of last year I seem to really struggle to switch off and relax when it came to bedtime, but as usual my brain likes to over work itself. So I am really craving a good FULL nights sleep that's for sure. Even though I have an eighteen month old who is battling with those pesky teeth I will try and make a more conscious effort to be good and switch off to sleep. 

4. Do something for me...

I am sure that I am not alone in saying that us parents don't always have many moments to ourselves. Each week I will try and set aside some time for me whether it be a walk, reading a book, take a bath, or even squeezing in a nap. Me time, me time, me time!

5. Drink more water

Drinking more water is something that everyone should add to their list of resolutions, I know that I never drink enough water. However, if tea counted towards a water count I would be more than smashing those water goals, but it isn't so I am having to switch a cheeky cup of tea for bottled water more often. I am so eager to want to smash these drink more water resolution that I have downloaded and paid for a water app, yep I am that serious. 

6. Think positively and keep an open mind 

I am a pretty positive person, but I must admit since the birth of my daughter I have started to struggle with some things that never really bothered me before she came along. It's beginning to affect my sleep and I will lay awake most of the night being irrational and having really crazy thoughts. And instead of letting things get to me, I really want to be more proactive, positive and keep an open mind. 

7. Don't stress

Carrying on from the previous one, something else that I seem to do more often than not is stressing out, over the smallest things. It's becoming quite a regular thing now, getting stressed over menial things and sometimes I take these out on the wrong people and I don't actually want my daughter to see me get stressed and angry over silly things. Less stress, less worry, lower blood pressure. 

Even though making changes can be hard, especially when you are trying to create new healthy habits. Instead to trying to change everything at once try an aim to make one small change at a time. You don't want to be defeated before you even begin! Do you make resolutions?

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